Directed by Jason Moore
Starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, John Cena, John Leguizamo, Bobby Moynihan, Greta Lee, Madison Davenport
Two sisters decide to throw one last house party before their parents sell their family home.
Since the release of Bridesmaids a few years back, there has been a huge demand for more female-led comedies to hit our cinema screens. However, most of them have fallen rather flat. The Heat was rather unremarkable and this year’s Spy, Trainwreck and Hot Pursuit were all rather tepid affairs, the latter of which barely raised the smallest of grins on the faces of its audience. Thankfully we can round the year out with Sisters, a great but rather uneven comedy starring Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, that will sadly be overshadowed by some adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
As the title would suggest, Poehler and Fey are sisters who are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Maura (Poehler), is a straight-laced divorcee who wants to help the homeless and do other good deeds, while Kate (Fey) can’t hold down a job and is struggling to raise her teenage daughter Hayley (played by From Dusk Till Dawn‘s Madison Davenport). When they discover that their parents are selling their family home, they have to go back to their childhood residence to clear out their stuff. However, Maura realises that she never had the chance to have her big party moment because she was always the ‘Designated Mum’, and so the pair decide to throw one last hurrah before a pair of yuppie hipsters buy the house the following day.
Sisters is really carried by the two fabulous comedic performances from Poehler and Fey, as well as a pretty solid supporting cast including Ike Barinholtz, John Leguizamo and Maya Rudolph. Their on-screen chemistry genuinely makes them feel like actual sisters, and not just two actors pretending to be related. You can feel their connection, and you understand why the love each other despite their flaws. This also allows for them to riff off each other and improvise around the script written by Saturday Night Live alumni Paula Pell to great effect. They’re at their most hilarious when they’re being as natural as possible, and while many of the jokes are easy ones to make, they mostly land. There are a couple of moments towards the end and peppered throughout that are pretty lousy, but for the most part Sisters is really funny for the most part.
But this improvising comes at a price. Like every comedy movie released after Knocked Up, Sisters is about half an hour too long. Like Trainwreck, Sisters would have benefited greatly from a tighter edit because at two hours, there simply isn’t enough material and it all becomes rather tiresome. Did the sequence where Bobby Moynihan impersonates Scarface while high on cocaine need to go as long as it did? What would have been a funny one-minute gag ends up running nearly three, with it becoming less and less funny with each passing second. The problem with this level of improvisation is that it’s hard to cut around, and directors often don’t want to cut anything out. Why only use one of the funny lines provided when you can use five? It also doesn’t help that the movie pushes the boundaries of believability towards the end of the picture. There is such a thing as ‘leaving your brain at the door’, but Sisters gets very silly before the film is over.
It’s a real shame as there is a sweet and funny 90-minute movie hidden somewhere in Sisters. Fey and Poehler are a wonderful comedy duo, and the story they’ve built upon is really great. We’ve all seen house part movies staring teenagers (or actors in their late 20s playing teenagers), so it’s quite refreshing to see a group of parents and responsible adults let their hair down for one last blast. Pushing its runtime issues to one side, Sisters is a really funny movie that has many flashes of brilliance. Even simple things like Poehler attempting to say her Asian manicurist’s name will have you rolling in the aisles and there is a joyous dance number in the middle of the film. A tighter edit would have helped, but Sisters is well worth a watch if lightsabres and Jedis are not your thing.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and a contributor for Flickering Myth TV. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen.